A forum topic popped up today on Cosplay.com that caught my attention. The thread title was "The Flip Side of the Coin." The topic started asked three simple questions about the upside of cosplaying, "What's your most memorable Cosplay moments or experiences of 2009?", "Things you love about cosplay?", and "Who or what made you smile at a convention?" Once I started typing up my answer to the second question, I found that I couldn't stop. I don't think I even really realized how much cosplay means to me until I was flat out asked. The truth is, a lot of the benefits of cosplay could probably be met by quite a few other things, at least the benefits I get.
An obvious reason I cosplay is the anime and video game tie-in. I get to mimic my favorite characters, and own some of their outfits. I can wear them out and about (at conventions) and not be looked at like I'm a freak. Well, not too much of a freak anyway, haha. I also like being able to just have their clothes. I sometimes use bits and pieces in my everyday wardrobe just because I like the style. Although recently, I've been looking at cosplaying things other than anime and video games too.
Cosplaying has taught me a lot too. If it weren't for cosplay, I probably never would have bothered to learn how to sew. At least not at this age anyway. Cosplay taught me to be more understanding of different types of thought (though some people I'll still never understand). Furries are a good example here. Before I started cosplaying, my friends had conditioned me into disliking furries. I didn't even really know who / what they were, and yet I somehow "knew" that they were to be disliked. Now that I know that they're not always exactly what their reputation makes them out to be, I can accept and understand them much better.
Cosplay has also kept my love of theater alive. After high school, I didn't really have anything theater or performance-related to do. I ended up taking a costume construction class, for the sake of cosplay, and I discovered that I even love the behind-the-scenes parts of the theater in addition to being on-stage. Also, I get a chance to act and improvise every time I put on a costume (and even sometimes out of costume =O).
With cosplay, I can set and manage my own relatively minor goals and see them accomplished. Whether it be winning a contest, finishing a costume, or just completing a certain costume part, I always have something to work toward that I know for sure I can complete. It is conceivable that I could set and accomplish one goal a day, even if it is just something small. Having a lot of small, personal achievements really helps my morale and makes me feel useful, even if it is only to myself.
In addition to that, I honestly do love the compliments and attention I get through cosplay. It's a very strong positive reinforcement that pushes me to work even harder on my costumes and pursue my hobby.
I'm sure there are many more reasons why I cosplay, but I really feel like I'm writing an essay here. Look! It's even in essay format! I may or may not come back and add to this.